Benefits of the flu vaccine: stay healthy this winter

By Briana Hayes
Staff Writer

pic of doctor prepping vaccine

Photo: Morguefile

With long and harsh winters come sniffles, coughs, the purchasing of endless boxes of tissues and cold medicines. However, the common cold can become something more threatening to your health- the flu.

The flu features symptoms such as high fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, headaches, chills, fatigue, and nausea.

The flu vaccine is a very popular vaccine that individuals can get once a year. It is best to get the vaccine as early as possible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine decreases your chances of getting the flu by at least 70 percent. It also protects against complications that can come with the flu such as pneumonia. This is especially important in children and young adults.

The flu can vary in seriousness. Flus can mimic cold symptoms or they can be deadly. While the flu does seem common it should be taken seriously.

One of the misconceptions regarding the flu vaccine is that it will make you get the flu. This will not happen because the vaccine contains dead viruses.

The virus can incubate for up to a week, so if you were exposed to it right before you got vaccinated you might believe the shot gave you the flu, when that is not the case.

Another issue is that people often use “the flu” colloquially to mean a runny nose and fever, but there are plenty of other illnesses that can cause those symptoms.

There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to whether or not the flu vaccine is beneficial to preventing the flu. While many pharmacies offer free flu shots, many individuals choose not to get the vaccine.

In general, those people who do not get vaccinated can not attend public school due to the risk they put other people at by not receiving vaccinations. These decisions are normally made by minors’ parents who believe they are protecting their children from the risk of vaccines, which they believe are greater than the risk of the disease.

Vaccines must undergo a tougher safety examination and have stricter standards than many pharmaceutical products due to the fact they are given to healthy individuals – many of them children.

However, many of these vaccines are meant for diseases that are not popular and often forgotten about. This leads to the idea that the risk of vaccines is not worth it for diseases that are no longer apparent in society.

The risks of these vaccines in the public eye include the theory of vaccines leading to the onset of autism. While risks from vaccines exist, such as rashes, soreness and swelling, there is ample support th show that vaccines don’t cause autism.

Modern research in vaccines has been beneficial due to the technology that is available. Technology has allowed for purer and safer vaccines than in the past.

This includes many developed countries switching to the inactivated polio vaccine from the original vaccine, which was made from killed bacteria and proved to be ineffective at times.

The downside to this research is the number of people that are enrolled to test the risks of vaccines.

The only true way to determine risks based on a large enough population is to allow the general public to use the vaccine after it has passed all of the safety requirements.

This process was used during the 2009 and 2010 H1N1 influenza outbreak. While researches and medical experts were looking for a paralytic side effect, narcolepsy, or the act of incontrollable sleep occurred. Risks were able to calculated by millions due to the use of the vaccine by the public.

Vaccines come with both positive and negative side effects; However, schools and many jobs require them because they feel the good outweighs the bad. Like almost any other pharmaceutical drug or product, side effects, while rare, can occur.

For more information on vaccines you can visit http://www.nvic.org to research on the National Vaccine Information Center or you can speak with your doctor.

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